Vowing to give a befitting reply to any attempt to break the country, Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said “separatist movement and terrorism” will not be tolerated in Jammu and Kashmir and asserted that India wants peace, but not with those who do not respect its borders.
Replying to a debate in RajyaSabha on extension of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir by six months beginning July 3, he said the Modi government has “zero tolerance to terrorism and central agencies such as NIA and tax department are working to choke separatist financing in the state.”
Shah advocated a new thinking to solve the Kashmir saying the approach of the past 70 years hasn’t yielded any result.
“We want development in the (Kashmir) Valley. But we will not tolerate any separatist movement and terrorism. Terrorists who do not want to join with India have no place in the government’s scheme of things. They will face severe action and difficulties,” he said.
Shah said the Modi government struck at the heart of militant training when it carried out surgical and air strikes across the border after the Uri and Pulwama attacks.
Unlike in the past, foreign and defence policies have been segregated keeping national security at the core, he said.
“We want peace with the world but there cannot be peace with those who do not respect our borders,” he said.
He blamed the Kashmir problem to the ceasefire by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru when one-third of the state was still in Pakistani occupation and said “historical blunders” will always be debated.
He went on to ask why Nehru government went to the United Nations despite Kashmir’s accession to India and agree to hold plebiscite “that is in any case out of question today”.
On reference made by opposition parties to the National Register for Citizenship (NRC), the Home Minister said the Modi government is clear that infiltration must be curbed and infiltrators must be identified and sent out.
A citizenship bill will be brought to give Indian citizenship to Hindus coming from neighbouring nations, he said.
Rejecting opposition’s allegation that the BJP was using President’s rule to continue its proxy rule, Shah said there is no “drought” for his party as it is in power in 16 out of the 29 states in the country.
The BJP, he said, formed a government in the state with PDP due to a fractured mandate of the people and snapped ties when it realised that separatists were being patronised.
“We have continued with a single approach towards the Kashmir issue but if the problems persists even after 70 years, it becomes imperative for us to review and adopt a new approach. We are all for development but there will be no place for separatists and terrorist here,” he said.
The Home Minister said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and no one can detach it from the country. “Our government has zero tolerance for terrorism.”
He, however, said the government is committed to development of the state in the spirit of ‘Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat, Kashmiriyat’ (humanity, democracy and Kashmiri traditions), a slogan coined by former prime minister AtalBihariVajapee which has been often quoted by BJP leaders.
He asked the Congress why panchayat and municipal elections were not held before and why democracy in the state be restricted to “just three families”.
Taking a jibe at Leader of the Opposition GhulamNabi Azad, Shah said BJP was for holding simultaneous elections to LokSabha and all state assemblies and he was willing “to bring a bill tomorrow if the opposition party agrees to the proposal”.
To criticism on why government was not asking Election Commission to hold elections in the state, he said the poll body alone decides on holding elections.
“Whenever Election Commission says we will not take even a single day to call elections in the state,” he said.
Responding to opposition citing Vajpayee’s call for honouringKashmiriyat, he asked who threw Kashmiri pandits out of state and the Sufi traditions. “Were they not part of Kashmiri tradition,” he asked.
The Home Minister also defended shutdown of highways in the state following the Pulwama attack and during the ongoing Amarnathyatra, saying the measure was a necessity for security and safety of people.
The government, he said, is committed to protecting every citizen.
“Our approach is clear, those who talk of breaking India we will respond to them in the same language,” he said. “There is no need for fear in anyone’s mind. It is government’s duty to protect every citizen.”
Shah said the Congress was guilty of misusing Article 356 of the Constitution the most to dismiss governments of rival parties in the states.
On steps taken during the President’s rule, he said security cover of 2,000 people was reviewed and was withdrawn for 919 persons including eight separatists.
Separatists advocated shutting down of educational institutions in the Valley but sent their children to foreign countries for higher education and jobs, he said adding there were some 130 such people. Militants lodged in jails in Jammu and Kashmir are being shifted out to other states to prevent organised militant activities in prison, he said.